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Wondering how your toddler is going to react to the newest member of your family? Will a baby sibling be greeted with joy, curiosity, fear, or frustration? Here are 6 tips from a mom of many to help make the adjustment smooth.
So you’re expecting another child…congrats, Mama! And this time you’re not just worried about preparing for a new baby, you’re worried about preparing your current baby to be a big brother or sister.
I get your concert; we recently added our 8th child to the family. With so many children already you might think we’ve got it all down, but it’s not always easy to prepare your toddler for a new baby.
Back when we were expecting our first child, I remember being nervous because I didn’t know how to be a mom. I was excited but also felt trepidation.
How would I handle it when I had a sick baby? What would potty training look like? How on earth would we survive college applications? (yes, I might have jumped the gun a bit back then)
But I read books upon books and Googled articles and read blogs and talked to friends that already had kids.
And somewhere in there, I relaxed, because it was no longer the great unknown. Instead, it was a new experience that I was equipped to handle.
It’s kind of the same for your children when you are adding someone new to the family, especially if they are going from the position of the youngest and getting promoted to the position of an older sibling.
Here are some simple ways to prepare your toddler for a new baby to join your family.
Get Them Excited About The Baby Before Your Due Date
We made the choice not to tell our children we were pregnant super early, after spending the previous pregnancy waking up to the question, “Is the baby here yet?” every morning for 7 months.
By the time Lil Dude was born, the kids were pretty much over the excitement because of how long it took for him to actually arrive.
For that reason, we waited until around 22 weeks to share the news with the next pregnancy with our toddler and other younger kids (although we told our older ones earlier!). And we had fun with how we did it, too…it’s a moment they’ll never forget.
We play the “thankful game” in our family and so my thankful moment for that day was that Lil Dude was about was about to become a big brother.
Oh, the joy on his face! From that day on we’d point out what a great big brother he was going to be, what a wonderful big boy he was, and so on. He loved to rub my belly and say “hi” to his coming sibling.
Read Books Together And Talk About It…A Lot
One of our favorite books to read was God Gave Us Two. We have read this with most of our children when we discover a new one is on the way.
After reading the story, we also talk about it and what fun things big brothers and sisters get to do that babies don’t. We talk about how one day they’ll be a new best friend to play with, too!
Another thing to share is how baby is developing each month. Your toddler will enjoy hearing how their little sibling is growing and you can highlight the details they’ll think are most exciting like thumb sucking, doing somersaults, or maybe opening their eyes.
Communication eases fears for adults, but also for little ones.
Have A Special “Meet The Baby” Moment
One special thing that happened was Daddy bringing “the big brothers” to the hospital to meet their new baby sister all together. Lil Dude was included with that, and he felt so proud!
On their way to see me and our little bundle of joy, they stopped and picked out a gift for each of us. Lil Dude was so proud to buy our Wildflower her first stuffed animal.
Facilitating that special moment for the two of them made him not only excited to meet her, but also excited to move into the position of Big Brother from Mama’s baby boy.
I remember saying to one of my children about their siblings, “This is your new best friend. Some day you will play together and laugh together and be best buddies. You are so blessed that God sent your best friend to live you with!” And you know what? They are.
It’s a great idea to plant that seed in their hearts.
Make Sure They Still Get 1:1 Time With You
Whenever a big brother or sister (or Daddy) held our little Wildflower, I’d make sure to scoop up Lil Dude and have an unscripted special moment. These times might last for a quick moment or half an hour.
I firmly believe this is essential for all of our children, but even more so for the younger ones during seasons of transition to feel secure and anchored by Mommy and Daddy’s love.
Often this is when I keep a book nearby to read to him or we play a game together. Sometimes though we have a cup of tea and a snack or pair socks together. I just make sure to be able to make eye contact, listen to whatever he has to say, and get some good snuggles in.
Let Them Help Care For The Baby
Lil Dude loves to grab a clean diaper when it’s time for me to change our little Wildflower, or share a rattle with her, or just play peek-a-boo. He feels special if I ask him to hold her hand and talk to her so that she has a friend to play with.
He also likes to grab a burp cloth when I’m nursing, or help me put her onesies into the dresser drawer. Helping boosts confidence and gives purpose; we all need that!
And helping creates relationship. We naturally begin to care for what we tend to.
Have Well Established Routines & Stick To Them
Routines and traditions are very comforting. Consider always snuggling in a favorite chair with a good book together, or always praying together before bed. And do those things even when the baby arrives.
When they wake up, do you brush teeth and sing a good morning song? Do you always play a game after breakfast? Is bath time every evening before or after dinner?
If you already have routines established, wonderful! You just need to maintain them. If you don’t have them, consider creating some. Rhythms provide security for children.
These constant rhythms throuhout the day will help your toddler feel more anchored in the family and know what to expect even when things are changing around him/her.
Bonus Tip: Prepare Your Toddler For A New Baby With Lots & Lots of Love
The most important thing you can do to prepare your toddler for a new baby is love them well so that they never ever doubt their position in your heart!
Sometimes the scariest part is wondering if Mommy and Daddy will have enough love in their hearts for all of their children. The answer of course is a resounding YES! Just make sure your toddler knows that.
And congratulations on your coming bundle of joy; babies are a beautiful gift! Your children will notice your joy and delight, and take their cues from you. They’ll also take comfort in your continued interactions with them.
Be sure to spend lots of quality time together as you prepare your toddler for a new baby.
Related: Top 10 Books For Every Mom To Read